V5.202 Preservation of records


HMRC may specify in writing the records which a person must preserve for a period not exceeding six years1. HMRC's requirements are set out in Notice 700/21/16 (April 2016).

In considering any request for a reduction in the six-year period, HMRC is likely to take the following into account2:


    •     any risk to the ability to control the business


    •     the revenue character (ie the compliance record) of the business


    •     the degree of independent audit control


    •     the degree to which storage space/cost is an issue


    •     the possibility of alternative means of preservation (microfilm/microfiche/electronic)

HMRC also maintains a policy of applying a minimum retention period in relation to certain records3.

Type of documentMinimum period
Sales or service dockets (mainly used by large organisations especially those involved mainly in retail trading, eg mail order houses)No restriction
Copies of orders, delivery notes, despatch notes, goods returned notes, invoices for expenses incurred by employees1 year
Production records, stock records (except those for second hand schemes), job cards, appointment books, diaries, business letters1 year
Import, export and delivery from warehouse documents3 years
Day books, ledgers, cash books, second hand scheme stock books3 years
Purchase invoices, copy sales invoices, credit notes, debit notes, authenticated receipts4 years
Daily gross takings records, records related to retail scheme calculations, catering estimates4 years
Bank statements and paying in books, management

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